Treasury: GM "Payback" Claims Not Misleading

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

In response to Senator Chuck Grassley’s concern that GM’s claim to have paid back taxpayer loans was misleading, the US Treasury is now saying that it has no problem with The General’s statements. According to the Freep, a Treasury letter to Grassley explains that:

GM’s decision to pay off the loan signaled the automaker did not face “extraordinary expenses,” and that Treasury approved the loan payoff.

“The fact that GM made the determination and repaid the remaining $4.7 billion to the U.S. government now is good news for the company, our investment and the American people,” said Herbert Allison, assistant Treasury secretary for financial stability.

Strictly speaking, GM’s claim to have paid back all US Government loans is correct. The only issue is that GM’s ad touting the payback makes no reference to the fact that it still owes the Treasury upwards of $40b. If that misleads folks, well, apparently the Treasury Department isn’t going to do anything about it.

And why would they? The better GM does, the better it looks like Treasury has managed the bailout, and GM’s success is undoubtedly tied to its ability to convince Americans that it doesn’t owe them anything, even if it does. The problem for both GM and the White House is that even former GM “ambassadors” are lining up to knock this misleading softball out of the park… and fan the flames of anti-GM sentiment in the process. All of which just increases the likelihood that taxpayers won’t ever be paid back in full.

Wouldn’t it be easier if some high-profile administration official simply acknowledged that GM has along ways to go? Or what about if GM didn’t try to score PR brownie points off this money-shuffle in the first place? At this point the auto bailout can’t be un-done, but it can still be made even more pointless by whipping up opposition with these Treasury-backed half-truths. After all, if you owe someone money but can’t pay them back, the least you could do is be honest about it.

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6 of 64 comments
  • FleetofWheel FleetofWheel on Apr 29, 2010

    GM is just posturing to get more loans. That's why they are pretending to have paid back the previous loans. In the car biz, this is what dealers to to underwater car buyers, roll over the underwater amount into the next car purchase.

  • Steven02 Steven02 on Apr 29, 2010

    Honestly, the claim isn't misleading. GM stated they have paid pack the loans. GM didn't state they have repaid the gov't everything that they were paid in. The rest of the money that is owed the gov't is in equity of the company. Whether the amount paid was too much, that is easily debatable. On the flip side, the money from the account that was used to pay the loan was going to go towards the loan anyway, if there was anything left in the account on June 30. GM paying this pack lowers the liability that the Govt had in GM. That is a good thing for the American tax payer.

    • See 3 previous
    • Undrgnd40 Undrgnd40 on Apr 29, 2010

      i hope i didn't offend. i just responded because you had me thinking about the equity part of the deal rather than the loan part. and no matter what the truth is, now nobody believes them.

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  • Ronin They all will back off, because the consumer demand is not there. Even now the market is being artificially propped up by gov subsidies.
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